Oakton graduates 25 nursing students at pinning ceremony

  • Miriam Barnett of Evanston celebrates graduating top of Oakton's nursing class at a pinning ceremony held on Dec. 15.

    Miriam Barnett of Evanston celebrates graduating top of Oakton's nursing class at a pinning ceremony held on Dec. 15. Courtesy of Oakton Community College

  • Nursing students celebrate graduating from the Nursing Program at Oakton Community College on Dec. 15.

    Nursing students celebrate graduating from the Nursing Program at Oakton Community College on Dec. 15. Courtesy of Oakton Community College

Submitted by Oakton Community College
Posted12/30/2021 10:03 AM

The sacrifices of missed family time and countless hours spent studying paid dividends for Miriam Barnett of Evanston, 49, as she graduated top of her class at Oakton Community College's fall nursing pinning ceremony, Wednesday, Dec. 15, at the Des Plaines campus, 1600 E. Golf Road.

Barnett was one of 25 Oakton students honored at the drive-up pinning ceremony attended by faculty, friends and family who hooted in pride for all the nurses who will embark on rewarding occupations in the health care industry.


"I'm a living example it's never too late to reinvent yourself," says Barnett, who previously worked in commercial construction and real estate and as a fitness director before enrolling at Oakton. "This serves as a message to younger people you can always change career paths. I've always wanted to work in health care. I'm looking forward to spending the next part of my life in such a worthwhile profession. Nurses are needed now more than ever."

Other fall 2021 Nursing program graduates include: Keilah Becker, Evanston; Camilia Bestre, Niles; Lindsey Biggins, Park Ridge; Biyona Biju, Des Plaines; Jemi Capungan, Arlington Heights; Priya Chandani, Skokie; Codruta David, Glenview; Kyle Estrera, Skokie; Mariia Hadyniak, Des Plaines; Karla Hurtado, Northfield; Dennis Jamboy, Wheeling; Chrishon Jefferson, Evanston; Kari Kennedy, Morton Grove; Tonee Khoshaba, Morton Grove; Abito Kolamkanny, Des Plaines; Oriana Koma, Mount Prospect; Ewelina Komosa, Des Plaines; Rebecca Olasimbo, Evanston; Alana Pontarelli, Evanston; Eric Ponzetti, Niles; Jasmine Ramirez, Skokie; Ruiz Roque, Glenview; Tarmudi Tarmudi, Park Ridge; and Isabelle Walker, Evanston.

Barnett received the Keeper of the Light Award, which recognizes the Oakton nursing candidate who has maintained the highest grade-point average throughout the nursing curriculum. She graduated with an overall GPA of 3.80. Hadyniak, Khoshaba and Kolamkanny also graduated with honors, earning a GPA between 3.50 and 3.74.

The college also inducted Barnett, David, Hadyniak, Khoshaba, Kolamkanny and Olasimbo into the Alpha Delta Nu Nursing Honor Society. The National Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (N-OADN) recognizes top associate degree nursing students with membership in Alpha Delta Nu. To be considered, students must have completed their first year of nursing, have attained a 3.0 overall GPA and earned a B or better in the core nursing courses. Students also must have demonstrated conduct on campus and in clinical areas that reflects integrity and professionalism. To be awarded full membership, students must finish their third semester of nursing and complete a group capstone project, which focuses on either recruitment or educational activities.

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"These students are inspirational as this has been a very trying time," Margaret Gas, Nursing chairwoman, says. "All of their hard work and dedication paid off in the end. The pins will always remind students to persevere, no matter what the situation. I'm very proud of the graduates."

Since 1984, more than 2,400 students have received an Associate of Applied Science-Nursing credential from Oakton. Instructional classes and labs feature a state-of-the-art nursing simulation hospital and nursing classrooms. Students enrich their learning through the clinical experiences offered in various health care settings throughout the community.

Over the last five years, Oakton has averaged a first-time pass rate of over 90% on the NCLEX, the national licensure exam for nurses. In 2020, that passing rate was 93%.

Nurses are in high demand, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs for registered nurses are expected to grow faster than average through 2026, with a median salary of more than $68,000 per year.


Oakton's Nursing program is approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). According to Nursing Schools Almanac, Oakton's Nursing program ranks No. 6 in the state for schools that offer an associate degree in nursing.

Applications for the fall 2022 class are due Feb. 14, 2022. Nursing program applications will be accepted at www.oakton.edu/apply.

For more information, contact Gas at mgas@oakton.edu.

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